Clinical attack and defence booked Halswell Hornets their spot in the premier grand final with a 42-12 win over the Hornby Panthers in the major semifinal at Papanui Domain on Saturday.
The Hornets, who lost to the Panthers 20-14 two weeks ago, started strongly and tries to Matt Sauni (two), Will Tafua and Junior Salevao saw them take an 18-0 lead into halftime.
Any chance Hornby had of turning it around was snuffed out minutes after the resumption when Halswell fullback Erwin Sauni helped himself to two tries off the back of two delightful set plays as the defending premiers eased out to a 30-0 advantage.
Hornby centre Craig Smith wasn't happy with their performance but said they “should turn it around” next week.
“We lacked commitment on defence, simple as that,” he said. “We have a couple of players coming back for next week so we should be right.”
The Panthers finally converted attacking pressure into points when Lance McEwan barged over but Halswell scored three further tries, including a 70m special by Salevao as he showed remarkable speed to complete his hat-trick.
Aranui booked their spot in the preliminary final against Hornby with an impressive 32-8 win over Linwood.
The Eagles led 8-4 at halftime but the scoreline didn't match their dominance as Linwood scored late in the half through Nathan Horgan to keep it close.
The Eagles' superior fitness helped them pull away in the last quarter.
Top tryscorer Josh Ka was prominent once again with two tries for the Eagles.
Aranui coach Jimmy Hema was a happy man, saying the performance came after his team suffered a recent spate of injuries.
“The boys worked hard during the week and it showed out there today.”
The Celebration Lions booked their spot in the Gore Cup final by dealing to Riccarton 50-34 at Halswell Domain.
The Knights will play the Northern Bulldogs in next week's preliminary final after the Kaiapoi-based club were too good for the Papanui Tigers 42-16.
SCORES AND SCORERS
Pat Smith Trophy 2012 – Qualifying Finals Halswell Hornets 42 (Junior Salevao 3, Matt Sauni 2, Erwin Sauni 2, Will Tafua, Toi Sepuloni tries; Jimmy Lim 3 goals) beat Hornby Panthers 12 (Lance McEwan, Callum Lawrie tries; James Baxendale 2 goals). Referee: Steve Toms. HT: 18-0. Aranui Eagles 32 (Josh Ka 2, Kolone Fa'alilo, Tyrone Edmonds, Michael Nicholls-Cane, Phillip Masesau tries; Ka 3, Joseph Smith goals) beat Linwood Keas 8 (Nathan Horgan, Siona Tuiloma tries). Referee: Mike Glover. HT: 8-4. Gore Cup 2012 – Qualifying Finals Celebration Lions 50 (Bruce Havea 3, Kasi Leka 3, Jonah Tuiletusuga, Zac Toomalatai, Kasiano Petelo, Daniel Moevao tries; Petelo 5 goals) beat Riccarton Knights 34 (Sean Harris 2, Michael Brierley, James Tongia, Bruce Buakula, Jimmy Evans, Jared Neho tries; Luke Rosvall 2, Simon Mounga goals). Referee: Jason Wilson. HT: 24-14. Northern Bulldogs 42 (Chris Keane 2, Nick Wain, Rainier McKenzie, Tungia Cooper, Nathaniel Tirikatene, Tom Mansfield, Josh Reuben tries; Tirikatene 5 goals) beat Papanui Tigers 16 (James Benson 2, Richard Holmes tries; Ewen Rush 2 goals). Referee: Daryl Mataiti. HT: 18-4.
Are you sick of the Football World Cup?Related story: When does the Football World Cup end?